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The Skincare Your (my) Doctor (med school intern) Won't Tell You About

Oct 25, 2010

Growing up in a home remedies household, I'm not used to going to the doctor for everything that's wrong with me.  But what I've learned since I moved away from my parents is I am not that great at taking care of myself.  These things coupled equals when I do go to the doctor I usually have a list of things to talk to him about. 

My last visit was particularly embarrassing.  My sprained ankle from June was still hurting, my back hurt from walking funny from the sprained ankle, I was getting migraines due to my tense back, overloading on Advil was making my stomach hurt (or so I suspected), I was breaking out terribly, due to stress from all of the above (yet another self-diagnosis), and I was coughing a lot, probably from allergies (I should totally be a doctor).  Oh, and I wanted a prescription for Latisse since I recently pulled out my falsies and now my eyelash situation is quite pitiful. 

My usual doctor did not come to evaluate me. Instead a handsome intern came in, smiled as I read off my list of ailments (I wrote them down so I wouldn't forget any), cut me off before I could request Latisse, complimented me on my toenail polish when he examined my ankle (pretty sure he was lying since I was way due for a new pedi), and told me to switch shampoos to take care of the breakouts.

"I don't think it's the shampoo," I told him, because obviously I am smarter than he.

Yet he offered no other advice, presumably because he thinks he's smarter than I. 

A few minutes later I heard his voice outside the door: "SEVEN. THINGS. She had SEVEN. THINGS." 

Hrm. Suddenly Handsome Intern wasn't so handsome.

My doctor walked in soon after. "So, you've got a lot going on today, huh?"


I left with a prescription for physical therapy, an inhaler, and Latisse, even though no one in the office had heard of it, and the checkout lady told me, "Don't come callin' here if the pharmacy don't know what this is, 'cause we got nothin' to tell 'em!" 

Doesn't anyone else watch TV?  Brooke Shields is dancing all over the place with her fabulous lashes!

But with nothing but change in shampoo to fix my skin, I was at a loss.  I switched shampoos and it just got worse.  I used astringent and my skin got so dry I couldn't even put on moisturizer without it burning.  I tried several face masks but the difference afterwards was negligible. 

Then the Roomie took notice.  "Have you tried Head & Shoulders?"

"No, I don't have a dandruff problem."

"No, but the ingredient in Head & Shoulders that cures dandruff is zinc, and it will heal your skin without drying it out.  I've been using it as body wash for years."

Sure enough, a couple of days after washing with Head & Shoulders the breakouts began clearing up!  And a giant bottle of it is only around $5, sure to last me for a couple of months. 

Plus, I just became even smarter than that annoying med student.

My Fall Crush: Faux Fur

Oct 21, 2010

I have never been a fur fan.  When I used to play dress up at my grandmother’s I would put on her pelts, and I knew they were supposed to feel luxurious, but I just didn’t get it.  Fake fur was even worse –- it wasn’t that soft and was kind of itchy actually.  I’m sure growing up in the South had a lot to do with why I didn’t see the point; a Georgia winter requires little more than a thin, merino sweater and a lined wool coat. 
I don’t know if last winter’s blizzard changed my mind or if I’m just that influenced by Marie Claire and Ann Taylor LOFT, but by golly I’m a total fur convert (faux of course – no Nolis made into a coat for me thanks).  It's not scratchy anymore and feels so incredibly luxe.  Plus, if your workplace is ultra-conservative like mine, you'll have fun shocking onlookers wearing boring navy blue suits.  Here are some of my faves of the season (that are actually within my budget -- all under $100).
(I'm wearing it today in honor of this blog post)

What are your favorite fur finds? 

Dry Shampoo (You'll look better than Heidi Montag, I promise)

Oct 18, 2010

Former roommate Margaret recently suggested I do tips of the day.  I like this idea because it means I can blog more often since the posts will be shorter, and sometimes telling a story is daunting, especially when I have a lot going on (like this past month -- new job, new roommate, new apartment, new hairdo, new season, etc. etc. etc.). 

So I've decided to post tips twice a week, on Monday and on Thursday.  And if I happen to miss one day please forgive me and I promise to get something up quickly.  I'll still tell my stories -- wait till you hear about my recent move, it's a doosey -- but this way I can share some fun finds with you.

What I would like to highlight today is TRESemme Dry Shampoo.  Some people think it's disgusting to not wash your hair every day, but girls -- and Kody from "Sister Wives" --, it's a proven fact that washing every day dries out and weakens your hair.  Your natural oils are a wonderful conditioner, which is why Marsha Brady brushed her hair a hundred times every night. 

As a wavy-hair girl, I haven't washed my hair every day since high school when I began working at a salon and the stylists taught me how to work with my loose curls instead of straightening them every day.  I soon learned I only needed to wash my hair every 2-3 days.  For me, the problems with infrequent washing are flakes, oily feeling around my hairline, and oily hair smell. 

So I was shocked when my new roomie told me she washes her hair even less than I do -- only twice a week.  She uses a dry shampoo, and I'm not even kidding, her hair has incredible bounce and not a hint of grease in it every single day.  Except her brand is way expensive, and I was still skeptical about it after Heidi Montag's stint in "I'm A Celebrity! Get Me Out of Here!"  She swore by her dry shampoo and it was NOT doing amazing things for her hair.

AKA Why I Will Never Get Plastic Surgery

A few days ago when I saw an ad for TRESemme I figured I should give it a shot since it was around $5.  I last washed my hair on Sunday evening, so I should have washed it on Tuesday.  Instead, Wednesday morning I sprayed the dry shampoo on my roots and all over my hair to make it smell fresh.  The mist turned into a powder that must have soaked up the oil, because two minutes later when I brushed it out, the powder disappeared and my hair looked fresh. 

The fancy brand may be better, but for now I am quite pleased with the results. 

Now somebody please send Heidi a bottle.

Mary El from the Block

Oct 13, 2010

Remember when I said a local dance studio wanted me to come take a class and blog about it?  It's okay, I almost forgot too.  After all, it was three months ago. 

Don't get me wrong, I was flattered by the offer.  The thing is, I'm terribly uncoordinated.  No no.  You don't understand.  I took ballet in college as an elective and the instructor gave me an F.  (I think that's pretty mean, don't you?) 

I blame my lack of coordination on two childhood events:

1) When I was five I missed my first jazz recital because we were going to visit my grandparents.  I went to the dress rehearsal and I watched, pouting from under a table, as all the other little girls flailed their hands and skipped around the room in their sparkly blue and gold tutus and white tights.  The teacher invited me to join them, but I didn't see the point.  Plus I was wearing pink and purple sweats -- didn't really go with the costumes. 

2) When I was six I was taking gymnastics, but my grandmother demanded my mother take me out of it when she came to watch me on a visit.  She said it was too dangerous for me to be doing somersaults on a balance beam six inches off the ground. 

Without the dance foundation, I didn't have a fighting chance of coordination later on in life.  This was further exacerbated in the fifth grade when I was recruited to the girls' basketball team because I was taller than everyone (except for the six foot wonder, Katie).  Let's just say I played really good defense. (I did get possession of the ball one time, but I was so shocked someone would pass it to me I froze then threw it at the closest goal. Not the right goal, mind you. I was not asked back the next year.)

I tried to explain this to Gwo, the dance instructor who invited me to take a class at DC Dance Collective.  I told him I was going to look like a fool.  He said it would make for a better blog.

Fine.  Bring my blog into it, why dontcha.  I can't resist an opportunity to embarrass myself and write about it.  So we decided I would go to his hip hop class. 

"You can stay for popping if you want," he told me.  Hahahahahaha!  Can you imagine?

I showed up to the studio one recent Wednesday night, unsure if my outfit was okay.  I had on a pink t-shirt with gray capris and my Nikes (gotta get some kind of use out of them since my June ankle sprain).  As I expected, everyone there dressed cooler than me.  This is what I was up against:

1)      Redheaded Belly Dancer
2)      “Dance Camp” T-shirt Hot Blonde
3)      Amanda from ANTM (actually a GW student, but very intimidating, all skinny and pretty)
4)      Cammo Cargo Pants Hardcore Girl
5)      Latina Amazingness
6)      Giggly Korean Who Got Out of Everything by Giggling

Gwo split us up into pairs, and bless his heart he let me pair up with him.  As he taught us the routine I was amazed with how well I picked up on the steps.  Either he gave us really easy steps, or I am not as bad as I think.  Or maybe I am terrible and was kidding myself.  At any rate, it was actually a lot of fun and by the end of the hour I wanted to high five all the girls because we’d done such a good job!  Of course I didn’t dare, but at least I wasn’t terrified of everyone in there.

I gathered my things and thanked Gwo as I headed toward the door, when he stopped me and said, “You should stay for popping!”

Horror washed over me.  I looked around.  All the other girls were staying for popping.  Gwo smiled and I thought, These girls aren’t as scary as I originally thought – I can do this.

Gwo explained popping is all about isolating muscle groups.  There was my first problem.  I attempted to have muscle groups this spring with running, and my legs were looking somewhat toned when I sprained my ankle and gave up exercising altogether.  I have a mother belly because the abs gave up on me long ago.  And the bat wings have settled in for winter.  So when  you talk about muscle groups and me in the same sentence, it’s time to move on to the next subject.

Alas, after a few simple instructions, we were required to freestyle it in a circle for all to see.  Belly Dancer popped her hips and belly. Dance Camp Hottie looked like a pro (I’m guessing she practiced this summer, right next to the Band Campers).  Amanda wasn’t wonderful but I wouldn’t dare think anything less because she still kind of scared me.  Cammo Cargos obviously knew what she was doing.  Latina Amazingness didn’t pop necessarily but still looked really good.  And Giggly Korean crept into the circle, giggled, and scurried out. 

Now try, dear readers, to imagine me popping.  If in your mind it looks at all like it did in the above video, then try again.  I looked more like a handicapped mime having a seizure.

I was relieved at the end of class when Gwo assured us popping wasn’t for everyone.  Whether he was talking to just me or making a blanket statement doesn’t matter.  He let me off the hook and I went home not feeling like I deserved an F.  Oh no, I got an A for Effort all the way. 

I went to bed kind of excited to have been in a dance studio again, and I fell asleep running the hip hop routine through my head. 

The next evening I was walking down U Street and saw my friend Liz.  She was talking to a cute guy, and by their body language I figured they were in the early stages of dating. 

“Hey lady!” Liz said to me as I approached.  “How’d your class go?”

“Not as bad as expected!” I told her, smiling politely at her gentleman friend.

“Show us what you learned!” she said, after introducing me to her boy.

So right there on the sidewalk I broke out my mad skillz.  Except for some reason they didn’t work as well without the music.  Yes.  That is definitely the reason I didn’t look like Jennifer Lopez.

After my impromptu performance I said good night so the lovebirds could get back to flirting.

Twenty minutes later Liz texted me: “My friend thought you were hilarious! He’s single…interested?”

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh help.